Su Jella, Director Data & Insights, Tennis Australia

Su Jella is the Director of Data and Insights at Tennis Australia, an established leader with over 15 years’ experience in the field of Data and Analytics. She’s led various teams and corporates at the departmental, practice and organisational level to help them tackle data challenges and build solutions that transform and mature data practices by analysing and retiring legacy systems and establishing forward thinking processes and frameworks based on real time information. These processes and frameworks align with business strategies to deliver insights that clearly define customers by directing communications, customer experience, organisational structure and enabling organisations to build relationships, teams and systems for the future.

Moreover, Su leads organisations on an evolution with their customers and the market utilising transformational techniques and solutions that help to achieve current and future data demands. She’s delivered end-to-end solutions in analytics for corporates and teams by delivering insights and strategies aligned with business goals for greater profit and customer experience. She was recognised as Australia’s Top 25 Analytics Leaders in 2022 by IAPA.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Su shared her professional trajectory, insights on how more women can be inspired and encouraged to pursue careers in Data Science, significant career milestones, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Su, please tell us about your background and areas of interest. What do you love about working with data/data science?

My career and expertise began in Marketing Research/Science / Analytics and Customer Behaviour Analysis. Over the course of my career, I navigated and delved into the evolving landscape of Digital Marketing, Database management, Martech, Cloud Technology, Customer Analytics and Big Data. In recent positions, I have assumed pivotal leadership responsibilities, spearheading the development and implementation of data strategies and platforms for organisations while fostering a culture centred around data-driven mindsets.

I am inherently curious and deeply passionate about learning. The realm of data offers a journey of exploration, problem-solving, causal analysis, and innovation. It extends beyond technical skills, providing avenues to dive into strategic development, change management, cultivation of data cultures, policy development, and the establishment of best practices. This diverse field holds the potential to drive impactful change across various organisational and non-organisational dimensions. Serving as a foundational element, data underpins multifaceted analyses and facilitates decision-making across different organisational tiers.

Why do you think more women should work in tech and data science?

It is extremely important to have a diverse workforce that represents the population and also changes the way we do business. Having more women in tech and data science can lead to diversified products and services. A diversified representation of the workforce allows audiences to resonate with services delivered by organisations and creates deeper value for the customer, that drives inclusivity and innovation in delivery.

More women in Tech and Data Science can help to close the gender pay gap. Women in Tech and Data Science earn higher salaries compared to women in other industries, and having more women in these fields can help raise the average salary for women overall, whilst also encouraging opportunities in these fields.

Women possess a diverse set of skills that enable them to build communities and practices in organisations, making them strong leaders. However, there is a lack of female representation in leadership positions in Tech and Data. Encouraging more women to pursue careers in these fields can help build female expertise and create more opportunities for women to become leaders in Tech and Data.

Integrating women in all areas of Tech and Data can drive stronger decision-making and support the delivery of economic prosperity. Technology and Data are constantly growing and evolving fields, providing ample opportunities for women to work in these areas.

There are a growing number of organisations that are working towards promoting gender diversity in Tech and Data Science by providing mentorship and development opportunities for women. By supporting these initiatives and promoting gender diversity, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable industry in Tech and Data.

How can we inspire more women to pursue careers in Data Science?

There are several ways to introduce, inspire and bring more women into this field. Women need to find role models and mentors who can help to shape their ambitions and choices in Tech and Data. Providing resources, awareness and education to women and girls can help to shape mindsets, understand opportunities and tailor their career paths.

We are currently living in the age of technology, and there are ample opportunities to make career changes into these fields. However, women need to be aware of how to start their careers in these fields. One way to do this is to sign up to organisations and initiatives that help to drive more women into these fields.

To keep growing diversity in this field, it is also important to empower females to pursue careers in Tech and Data earlier in their lives, while they are still in school. Cultivation at the grassroots level is important in developing an understanding of these career paths.

Women can also be inspired to join these fields by encouraging a growth mindset and networking with women in professional STEM roles. When we understand stereotypes that exist in these fields, we can encourage more females to pursue careers in Data and Tech, and thereby address the diversity gap.

It’s also important to provide opportunities for females to succeed in Data and Tech. This can include internships, hackathons, and other events that allow females to gain hands-on experience in Data Science. By creating an environment that promotes relatable role models, we can help inspire the next generation of females in science.

Women aren’t the only underrepresented group in tech – what can be done to make tech more diverse across race, class, and gender?

Similar approaches can be provided to other underrepresented groups. Networking, education, and mentorship are key drivers to building knowledge bases in this field.

To build this diversity, it is important as leaders as well to combat unconscious bias. It is highly encouraged that companies consider using anonymized hiring practices that focus on skills rather than personal characteristics.

More mentorship and development opportunities can help build a more diversified talent pipeline in teams and organisations that encourages more inclusive cultures, this will help to foster a sense of community in teams and organisations.

With technology and the speed at which we can gain information, there are significant opportunities available allow organisational partnerships. These partnerships can promote diversity and inclusion in Tech and Data, and can help companies build a diverse talent pipeline.

Enhancing the visibility of diverse representation in the public space not only facilitates but also simplifies the task of encouraging, motivating, and inspiring talent from various groups to participate in this field – audiences begin to resonate with specialists in the field that can then power more talent in Tech and Data.

What is it that motivates and inspires you in your everyday life?

Continuous learning and passion for things that are important to me in life. I love what I do as a career, but I also enjoy creating and stretching my mind and talents outside of Data and Tech.

Fun fact about you?

I am an avid travel enthusiast, a lover of sci-fi movies, and enjoy the simple joys of savouring a cup of coffee.

What are you particularly proud of in your career?

Making a career move from Marketing to Data has been an exciting journey. My learnings from my Marketing experience have helped to shape my understanding, patterns of human behaviour and actions using data and quantitative evaluation. I’ve been able to apply a human-centric approach in insights and decision-making.

It was humbling to be recognised as Australia’s Top 25 Analytics Leaders in Australia. It’s a privilege when one is awarded by their organisation for the impact that they deliver, but to be recognised for this impact outside of my organisation is an honour.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I would like to make impact with data at deeper strategic and senior leadership levels across organisations to help regulate, improve and drive transformational and sustainable practices in data environments that benefit customers and organisations at large.

What advice would you give to women who want to enter the tech industry?

Research your interest in the field and find an area that resonates strongly with you. Understanding the value and impact you can make to an organisation in Tech and Data is a key driver to achieving your ambitions. Be authentic and don’t hold yourself back in pursuing your interests. If you are in the field and looking to grow your potential – reflect, map and envision your journey towards your ambitions, this always helps to paint the picture of your aspirations.

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